Saturday, June 11, 2005

Lead By Example vs. Tell Others What To Do

I got this from perusing DailyKos. I like to read what the Left has to say sometimes. Helps me keep things in perspective. Between some of the nutjobs at Kos and some of the nutjobs at LGF I find the middle ground where I feel most people stand.

The article is pretty negative when it comes to describing a unit of the Iraqi military in a sector of Iraq. I assume the Washington Post printed a current story and not something someone came up with 3 or 4 months ago. That said the article seems pretty gloomy. I see it in another light though. I see it through the eyes of a former soldier and outside party. One thing I noted from the article is this:

An hour later, the men returned to Forward Operating Base Summerall, a sandy expanse behind concrete barricades and concertina wire a few miles outside town. They followed U.S. military protocol: Each soldier dismounted from the vehicle and cleared his weapon. [Cpl.] Zwayid stayed in the truck, handed his gun to a friend and asked him to clear it.

"Get down and clear your own weapon!" Cpl. William Kozlowski shouted to Zwayid in English.

Zwayid answered in Arabic. "That's my weapon," he explained, pointing to his friend.

"Corporal, you're a leader!" Kozlowski shouted back. "Take charge!"

Zwayid smiled at him. "What's he saying to me?" he whispered.

Therein lies the difference in mentality which I think plagues the ME. The US soldier is steeped in the "Lead by Example" mentality. US doctrine is built around leading from the front. As a leader you don't ask another soldier to do something you are not willing to do yourself.

The Iraqi leader has had a different example all his life. He has only been exposed to a "Tell Others What To Do" style of leadership. Leaders are tantamount to kings. They tell others to do things and don't sully themselves by doing such menial tasks. From the Caliphs down through Saddam it has always been this way. Deference has been given to a leader.

I think the lack of respect shown towards the Iraqi soldiers by the US troops stems from this difference. In Iraq, I guess respect is given. In America it's earned. While it's important that we learn from the culture in which our soldiers are immersing themselves I also believe they can learn something from us. One soldier commented on the fact that the insurgents were willing to die for their cause. Isn't his own freedom worth dying for as well? Isn't the freedom they haven't had the chance to experience in over 24 years worth dying for? If they don't learn this lesson from us then they'll soon have another Saddam in charge.

One must also take the article in context. The reporter was in Baiji which is about 130 miles north of Baghdad. Of course our main efforts to rebuild will start in the capitol and radiate outward. That means there will be places that see less of everything. If we attempted to rebuild the entire country en masse we would fail miserably. Instead we take things one step at a time. To gain a better perspective, the reporter should also report from Southern Iraq where the population makeup is different. Or Northern Iraq where the Kurds hold power and it's much safer (our troops head there for R&R).

Instead he reports from the Sunni Triangle, hotbed of insurgent activity. This leads me to believe the reporter has an agenda. He takes a piece of the pie and declares it is representative of the whole pie (the Title of the article was Building Iraqs Army: Operation Improbable). Such a statement is just absurd.


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